Let’s do this.
Toe meets leather. Friday Night Lights. Hotty Toddy/Hail State/To The Top. Hey, it’s time to play some tackle football.
As the legion of gridiron fans across the nation will attest, this is a special time of the year. I am very happy to say that for me, it never gets old. From the time my dad started taking me to Pascagoula High games when I was five or so, the beginning of football season has always held a touch of magic for me, and I know it has the same effect on many others.
Perhaps growing up and living in the South has something to do with it. Our region of the country has always been really good at football, and the populace is accordingly very passionate about this very American institution.
Our roots as football fans start with our local high schools, and that is very much the case in Jackson County. Whether you’re following the Panthers, Tigers, Eagles, Hornets, Bulldogs, Greyhounds, or Yellow Jackets, Friday nights hold a special place in our collective hearts.
How appropriate it will be this Friday, then, when Pascagoula hosts Moss Point at War Memorial Stadium in the latest renewal of one of Mississippi’s oldest and most storied rivalries. We’ve lamented in this column before about how, due to the two teams now being in different classifications, the game can no longer be the classic regular season-ender like it was for so many years, often played on cold November nights near Thanksgiving. Kudos, however, to the two schools for turning the contest into a slam-bang season opener, which is kind of the next best thing.
Coach Lewis Sims at Pascagoula is excited about this year’s Panthers, who will be led by all-purpose star Keilon Parnell. Moss Point, under Coach Eugene Harmon, features defensive lineman Jamarious Brown, an Ole Miss commit who is ranked as the state’s fifth best player. It should be another entertaining “Battle of the Cats”.
Then, fast on the heels of high school action will be the start of the 2022 college football season the following week. Ole Miss is coming off a 10-3 Sugar Bowl season under Lane Kiffin, and is currently ranked #21 in the first Associated Press poll. Mississippi State is in year three under MikeLeach, hoping his Air Raid offense will really take off this year. Southern Mississippi starts year two under energetic Will Hall with intentions of rekindling success in Hattiesburg. Throw in Deion Sanders at Jackson State, and Mississippi has one of the more eclectic quartets of coaches to be found.
I won’t say too much about the NFL here. I’m kind of a “meh” guy when it comes to pro ball ,but I do follow the Saints and keep up with former Rebels and local products in the league.
So, yeah, football is back, and not a minute too soon for many of us. OK, we don’t have “a touch of fall in the air” right now, and it’ll be a bit before “the leaves were bathed in autumnal splendor” as the iconic broadcaster John Facenda once proclaimed describing the backdrop of football, but the other elements of our beloved sport are about to take off. As I always remind you, let’s all get out there and support our teams of choice. See you at the stadium.
Richard Lucas may be contacted at [email protected].
*Photo courtesy of CBS Sports.